tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera October 12, 2013 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
>> cairo is a dangerous place to be. hundreds have been killed on the streets. there's a curfew enforced by military check points in every neighborhood. >> is it ok to film now? just let us know. >> we're trying to be very, very, very careful. very under the radar while we're here. no filming on the streets, leaving our equipment in different places. >> dozens of journalists, including our colleagues at al jazeera, have been arrested. security forces haven't been afraid to use force. >> we're here to see what cairo looks like after the crackdown, and to find out why the united states is still backing those responsible: egypt's military leaders.
>> on aug 14, egypt was poised for a bloody confrontation between security forces and supporters of the muslim brotherhood who were camped out in two squares in cairo. >> six weeks earlier millions were on the streets protesting president mohamed morsi. days later, on july 3rd, the military deposed morsi and seized control. the us appeared to support the take over but stopped short of calling it a coup. >> the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so far. so far, to run the country, there's a civilian government. in effect, they were restoring democracy.
>> but egypt was polarized as never before. on august 14, security forces moved to end the pro-morsi protests. human rights activists, journalists and brotherhood members recount what happened that day. >> the police used excessive lethal force they were firing like nonstop. >> there was fire everywhere, it was very hot, you could feel the heat just swinging by your face. you could see people falling everywhere.
it was very crowded and all these people were spending their last minutes with the bodies. this family recognized the body and it was him. and there, a woman just collapsed and hugged the body and stayed for a very long time. >> the minister of interior was in charge of the operation itself, but obviously there was also political responsibility for the way the operation was
conducted on that day. and that political responsibility can be laid at the door of the military which is ruling the country. >> these are the rulers that the us supports with $1.3 billion of military aid every year. since egypt signed a peace treaty with israel in 1979 the aid hasn't stopped flowing, no matter how repressive the egyptian regime. >> generally, weak us condemnation of abuses had set the stage where the egyptian authorities firmly believed that the us would never really take action because ultimately they needed egypt. >> with al jazeera all but banned in egypt, finding someone from the military to talk about relations with the us wasn't easy. the only way was to pose as independent filmmakers.
>> we've been told it's better to stop filming now. we're getting into some narrow lanes. people might be suspicious of us. >> egypt was not silent in the last years. we participate in the iraq war, we support the american in afghanistan, we did a lot of work, and we benefit from that experience. >> egypt also gives the us fly-over rights, counter-terrorism intelligence and unrivaled access to the suez canal. to preserve these privileges, the us is careful not to upset the egyptians. every politician here knows that, even deposed ones. >> we're on our way to visit amr darrag. he's one of the last remaining senior members of the brotherhood and freedom and justice party who hasn't been arrested. >> of course for egypt the us is
a strategic ally... and also of course egypt is very important for the us... because of the weight in the area, it's role in stability. it has proven this on many occasions. >> it's an alliance the brotherhood believe the us betrayed. >> this would be a very strange way to support democracy, to allow people to overthrow a democratically elected president. i thought that the era of supporting military coups was over. >> the same questions were being asked in the us of the obama administration. the mass killings on august 14 forced a change of tone. >> our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back. as a result, this morning we notified the egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise which was scheduled for next month. >> me as a military, i feel sad.
i like very much the bright star exercise. suddenly, now there is something wrong in the american mind, which they support muslim brotherhood. >> obama's stance angered the egyptian generals. but the relationship, although tense, was far from over. >> the relations between the egyptian military and the american military, it was always friendship, even in some tight time. we are friends, we have the same goals and we are democratic and we will put a lot of energy in this direction. >> most egyptians welcomed the end of morsi's presidency, and blame the muslim brotherhood for inciting violence. but sporadic protests by brotherhood supporters continue.
>> we're in one of the pro-morsi marches. everyone is holding up the four fingers sign, rabaa. >> with egypt still in flux, was washington just as confident about its relationship with the generals? or was this time for a new policy on egypt? >> wow! i've never seen tahrir this empty. i can't believe there's nobody here. >> to find out, we had to leave cairo. what happens when social media uncovers unheard, fascinating news stories? it drives discussion across america. >> share your story on tv and online.
>> in washington, the relationship between the us government and those responsible for the post-coup killings in egypt appears - on the surface - to be strained. >> we couldn't speak to anyone from the egyptian government when we were in cairo, but they're out in force here in dc, trying to rebuild the relationship. and it seems to be working. at conferences like this one, the discussions are about how the us can work with the new
military-backed government. and egypt's representatives in the us don't seem overly worried... >> ambassador tawfik do you think us military assistance to egypt is going to be cut? >> well, i mean, currently the whole assistance is being reviewed by both sides, the united states and egypt. the objective of this review is to revisit how much each side gains from this. and i'm confident this will renew the commitment of both sides. and will lay the foundation for even stronger cooperation in the future. >> but if the aid is suspended or cancelled, will egypt reconsider the privileges that the us gets - access to suez, overflight?
tawfik: again, this is not an issue we are discussing right now because we are confident that in the end, we will move forward together. >> egypt gets more us military aid than any country besides israel. what makes egypt so confident that the status quo isn't going to change? perhaps the answer is to be found with the lobbyists that egypt pays to represent their interests, here in dc. >> i saw egyptian, top egyptian generals put their finger in the face of u.s. congressmen and senators when they visited egypt and say "we do a hundred things for you and u.s. security every day that you don't even know about". so that was the way they looked at it. they didn't do it in a nasty way. for five years, former democratic congressman toby moffett's plm group, a
partnership between 3 lobbying firms, had a 1.1 million dollar contract to represent the egyptian government, and keep the aid flowing. >> did the egyptians think that aid would actually be cut? >> never, never. i mean military aid, never. toby said the core of the relationship was a military one. i asked him if there was an insider who had the confidence of both militaries. >> hello? skip? skip miner? it's anjali kamat from fl william skip miner is the egyptian generals' favorite lobbyist. he was a pilot and commander in the navy, and worked for the joint chiefs of staff. >> i think between the two militaries there's a relationship and it's based on our mutual interests.
that hasn't changed. they're very close. >> do you think that military aid will be suspended? >> i always cringe when people say we give them this money. i never look at it that way. we have money to contribute, and then they give us access. we still have access. they haven't changed the nature of what they provide us. why would we want to change what we provide them? >> now, i know that must really rub u.s. taxpayers the wrong way because you picture the brinks trucks with 1.3 billion dollars driving up to the defense ministry of our money. and these guys don't view it as a favor, but they think it's an investment, a u.s. investment in partnership.
a partnership that is primarily between two defense establishments. >> the money also goes to pay for training. and that to me is the biggest single benefit is that all these egyptian military guys coming over here, going to schools in american military schools. they're in our system learning. the other interesting thing is they make friends. and they all feel free to get advice because they're classmates. >> do you think people are giving general sisi advice? >> yes well i'm sure they are. sisi's been to school here too so i would imagine he's done the same thing. keep in contact with friends. general abdel fattah el sisi, today egypt's strong man, spent
a year at the us army war college in carlisle, pennsylvania. his advisor was retired colonel stephen gerras. >> i would assert for any conversation that a senior department of defense official has with a general from another country, if they've been through a senior service college - you could cut down a lot of barriers. so if you're talking to general el sisi you know that he's been to the hershey amusement park and taken his kids on a roller coaster and understands what a chilly dog is. >> all of that builds a personal relationship that can transcend political disagreement. you can operate at the speed of trust. and that is so important in a crisis. there's a real belief in the military that personal friendships between egyptian and american generals can handle any bumps in the road. >> i would say that there's a very cautious optimism that it will work itself out. >> what is that based on? >> i think that's based on our - now this is a military view -
based on our knowledge of the egyptian military. an in-depth knowledge that's been fine-tuned over 35 years. it seems to keep the egyptian generals assured there will be little consequence for their domestic repression. it's backed up by commitments from the pentagon to keep the military aid flowing. >> i'm on the department of defense website doing a search for contracts meant for egypt. it looks like there were at least three large contracts that were awarded to raytheon, general electric and bae systems in july and august. that's right after the coup.
the pentagon wouldn't talk, and directed us instead to the us state dept. >> i think we've been very, very clear that we condemn all violence. and the president was clear as well that business as usual can not continue with egypt when people are being killed on the streets. >> right. but there was a defense contract of 13.7 million dollars that was awarded to egypt on august 12th. [talking over each other]. >> i'm not familiar with that. >> the same day you said at the press briefing that the us was very deeply concerned about the potential for violence. what's the rationale in awarding this contract on the very same day that you're saying that you're very concerned about violence? >> well, the first point is i don't have the details of that contract in front of me actually, i can't confirm that, so i'm not going to respond to something that i don't have the details on... >> [talking over]: the state department and the pentagon are working at odds with each other? >> not at all. i also can't speak for the pentagon. so again, i'm not familiar with that specific contract you're referring to, so i'm not going to speak to it.
if the state department doesn't know about the details of america's military contracts with egypt, and the pentagon won't talk to us about it, what is the reality? we decided to commission further research on us arms shipments before and after the coup. the results: there's been a steady flow of nearly 2000 tons of american military equipment to egypt since july 3. at least 8 container ships carrying defense materials left the american ports of baltimore, new york and norfolk. their destination: the egyptian ports of damieta and alexandria. business as usual.
but in cairo, there was a sense that the action wasn't especially punitive. in fact, it might have been designed to have a minimal impact. >> it doesn't really affect the deployment of military force domestically or locally. i think the us is aware of the fact that egypt already has a surplus especially of the tanks and maybe the jet fighters as well. and it doesn't really need it unless it's going through an all out war or an alien invasion. >> about weapons, i don't think we will suffer now. we have already airplanes, tanks. the americans still believe egypt is important for the united states and also for the region. >> so important that they've given egypt the fourth largest fleet of f16's in the world, and no shortage of american tanks. >> i hear that the latest shipment of m1a1 tanks is still in boxes.
thousand of tanks and a big number of jet fighters. if halting the f16's and canceling bright star won't make a difference to egypt, then what could the us do that would have an impact? >> if we were to reduce the part of the assistance for replacement parts to keep things running, that would be much more serious. as far as i know we haven't done that yet. he's right. the us hasn't stopped the supply of parts. >> things break. things fall apart in the military world. it wears out much faster than in the commercial world. so you need a constant supply of parts. >> so american made equipment requires american made parts? >> yes. it's not that easy to go from one supplier to another supplier... you can't go buy it off the russian shelf. that gives you a certain amount of leverage. the leverage really isn't the money...it's the stuff the air
force or the army is providing to keep the current equipment going. and that's exactly the stuff they keep sending. fault lines' investigation found that the bulk of the arms shipments from the us to egypt after the coup consisted of spare parts for the f16 jets, m1a1 tanks, and apache helicopters the egyptian military already has. just before we went to air, the us announced it would freeze the supply of jets and tanks that egypt has a surplus of. spare parts, counter terrorism support and military training would continue as before >> the united states will at times work with governments taht do not meet at least in our view, the highest international expectations. but who will work with us on our core intrests. >> they tend to prioritize
seeking stability over condeming abuses, and i think this was one of those occasions where you can see how short sighted that policy is. once again, the military is seen as the best guarantor of stability in egypt. the consequences have been grave. hundreds of people are in prison and violence on the streets continues. >> it's very difficult to talk about political space or even politics in egypt right now. because that space is being very, very tightly controlled. and constantly narrowed by hardline security services who are really winning. >> there's a possibility that this situation will continue to be like that and if that happens, what they haven't been able to do for the past two years and a half will be achieved, which is the return of the police state in the proper sense of the word, not just in a sense that the police is brutal, but in a sense that
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